Look inside any teenage girl magazine and one will find a page dedicated to horoscopes. From celebrities getting their own astrologists to reading about one’s star sign, interpreting the stars and planets seems to be popular. Perhaps people want an answer to their questions or some insight on how to handle a situation. Reading their horoscope gives people the opportunity to understand the world around them, similar to the role of superstition in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain, in his American Realistic novel, utilizes superstition in order to help the characters understand life and search for the truth (Cohen 68). Therefore, superstition plays an important role in the novel.
Superstition is used in the novel to emphasize the feelings of the characters. One instance is when Huck is sitting by an open window at night. He realizes that a spider is crawling on his shoulder and quickly flicks it off. The spider falls into his candle and burns. Huck explains that it is a bad sign and would give him bad luck. Then he goes on to perform some rituals to get rid of the bad luck, but realizes that there is no way to get rid of it (Twain 16). Huck sees the woods as a scary place full of supernatural phenomena. He uses the supernatural as his means of encountering dangers. In the case of the spider, his coping mechanism has, “turned on him, multiplying his fears” (Mensh and Mensh 24). The spider incident only adds to Huck’s fear of the unknown. At nighttime, he is at a state of heightened fear, which causes him to overanalyze ordinary occurrences. Huck relies on these events to give him guidance on how to navigate his life. He fears the future, so he uses superstition to cope with th...
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...nfession about Huck’s father’s death, but also the development of camaraderie and trust between Huck and Jim. Superstition is used to foreshadow events that come later in the novel, giving the characters insight on how to recognize consequences to actions. These superstitions allow characters to make their own choices and learn what’s important in life.
In conclusion, superstition is utilized in the novel to aid the characters in understanding life. Superstitions are fictitious personal or social beliefs that belong in the category of games because they are a kind of “make-believe.” Twain uses games and superstitions to aid the characters in “exploring life” and finding out the “truths that are worth preserving.” In the novel, the characters must understand the meanings of these games. By doing so, they are able to make the “most profound moral decisions” (Cohen 68).
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